Also known as: The Colgate Comedy Hour Release Date: 1954 (originally aired) Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello
Colgate-Palmolive-Peet, NBC, 59 Minutes
I bought this pretty sure that it had never actually been a movie. I was right. But considering that I love the Gillman more than any monster to come out of the Universal Monsters franchise, I had to buy it.
Plus, I also love Bud Abbott and Lou Costello and every time they cross paths with horror icons, it makes for really good results.
This is actually an episode of the comedy/variety show The Colgate Comedy Hour, which was a very early variety show in the earliest days of television.
You have to sit through about forty minutes of comedy skits, interviews, ice skating and dancing routines but you do eventually get to the section that stars Abbott and Costello.
Their segment is less than fifteen minutes and while it is rather funny, it only features the Gillman for maybe five seconds. The segment actually features more of Frankenstein’s Monster than it does the “creature” from the Black Lagoon. While that’s underwhelming and disappointing, the skit is still funny.
I wouldn’t call this a waste of money, by any means, as it was like five bucks. However, it’s packaging and title are pretty misleading and I can see where most people will end up with a product that pisses them off. For me, it’s just some weird novelty that’s been added to my classic horror collection.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: the Abbot and Costello monster movies.
Original Run: March 21st, 1996 – April 27th, 1997 Created by: Max Mutchnick, David Kohan Directed by: various Written by: various Cast: Anthony Clark, Traylor Howard, Hedy Burress, Steve Paymer, Roger Rees, Tasha Smith, Vincent Ventresca, Sam Anderson, Margot Kidder, Zach Galifianakis
KoMut Entertainment, Castle Rock Entertainment, Columbia TriStar Television, Sony Pictures Television, NBC, 32 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)
Recently, while on YouTube, I went down the sitcom rabbit hole and started to rewatch a lot of the stuff I used to like, back in the day. I was curious to see how these shows held up and if I would still enjoy them. This one, particularly, was one I would watch in the late ’90s when the USA Network would do that morning block of shows called USAM.
Boston Common was unfortunately short-lived, as it was a mid-season replacement in its first season and then only got a full second season later that same year.
I remember thinking that Anthony Clark was hilarious and I was crushing hard on Traylor Howard, who played the apple of his eye on the show.
In 2020, I still enjoyed this quite a bit. It’s hokey in the way that traditional multi-cam, studio audience sitcoms were back then but it has character and depth beyond what’s on the surface. The characters develop well over the short time they had to exist and it’s hard not to find something to like in all of them. Even Jack, the pompous professor.
Shows like this don’t seem to really work nowadays but its a shame. They were a good, light-hearted way to escape from reality. And even if they did touch on some tougher or topical subjects, they always did it in a way that was more palatable and fair than the heavy-handed, overly biased shows of today.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: other late ’90s sitcoms.
Also known as: The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (Season 8-10) Original Run: October 2nd, 1955 – June 26th, 1965 Created by: Alfred Hitchcock Directed by: various Written by: various Music by: Stanley Wilson (music supervisor), various Cast: Alfred Hitchcock, various
I grew up watching this show a lot with my granmum in reruns on cable. The theme song always got me excited and even though I was a kid of the ’80s that loved everything about that decade, I still also enjoyed older stuff like this and the other anthology shows of the era like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents always intrigued me though, as it seemed to have more legitimacy, at least to my little kid brain. This was because I knew very much who Hitchcock was, I was familiar with a lot of his work and I really liked his films, even when I was too young to grasp them or fully understand their meaning and themes. Plus, I just really liked Hitchcock’s personality.
Over the last few years, I’ve rewatched a lot of the episodes. I haven’t seen all of them, as there are just so many and because even if family members have DVD collections they have let me borrow, there are still a lot of missing pieces I haven’t gotten my hands on.
Regardless of that, I feel as if I have seen a large enough sample size, from most seasons, to give the show a review.
Overall, Alfred Hitchcock Presents is pretty good from top to bottom and the quality of the seasons feels consistent. Sure, like with any anthology series, there are episodes that don’t live up to expectations and sometimes feel like they could’ve been snuffed out at the pre-production stage. However, there aren’t a lot of episodes like this and, for the most part, the show isn’t hindered by its low points.
The show has a pretty wide range of genres it uses over the course of its 361 episodes but nearly everything feels like it lines up with Hitchcock’s own cinematic work.
Each episode may be written and directed by its own team but it seems as if Hitchcock was pretty involved in everything and just about every story maintains a certain tone and visual style.
This is such a massive show to get into and to try and watch in its entirety. I’m not even sure if all of it is commercially released, as it switched from different networks over the years it was originally broadcast. However, I know that a lot of episodes were on Hulu, recently. I’m assuming that you can still find them there. That is, unless the NBC episodes have been pulled for their upcoming streaming service.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: other anthology mystery and horror shows of the era.
Release Date: July 5th, 1987 (TV) Directed by: Richard Rothstein Written by: Richard Rothstein Based on:Psycho by Robert Bloch Music by: J. Peter Robinson Cast: Bud Cort, Lori Petty, Moses Gunn, Gregg Henry, Khrystyne Haje, Jason Bateman, Kerrie Keane, Robert Picardo, Buck Flower, Carmen Filpi
Universal Television, NBC, 90 Minutes
“[referring to the urn] Oh that’s not saki, that’s Norman.” – Alex West
Let me start off by saying that this television movie is terrible. However, I still kind of dug it and felt that it had some good seeds planted in what could have been a solid television series had this feature length pilot been picked up by NBC and developed into a full series. Granted, it needed some time and experimentation to find its footing but I think it could’ve gotten there.
The main thing I liked about this was the top three members of the cast: Bud Cort, Lori Petty and Moses Gunn.
Also, it was a really cool take and reinvention of the Psycho film franchise that could have stood on its own, given enough time to grow and find its groove.
What hurts this pilot “movie” the most is its editing and pacing. It’s clearly a mish mash of two episodes that don’t work when wedged together. On their own, they probably would’ve been fine but it ruins the three act structure and narrative flow.
I guess this is how it had to be presented though, as the show wasn’t picked up by NBC but they probably wanted to make their money back, so they stitched it together and sold it as a “movie of the week” release. Which, probably worked out, as Psycho fever was pretty strong in the ’80s once Anthony Perkins turned the classic film into a four movie franchise starting with 1983’s Psycho II.
I have always liked Bud Cort and I always thought Lori Petty was just a really cool chick. This didn’t change my opinion of either actor and I enjoyed their scenes and thought they had a fun chemistry.
In the end, this really is a dud but it is still worth a watch for those who love the Psycho franchise and haven’t seen it. It’s pretty rare and mostly forgotten but it is on YouTube, at least for the moment. Although, that version is a crappy VHS rip. I still found it watchable but I also have a high tolerance for thirty-plus year old VHS tapes.
Rating: 4/10 Pairs well with: the ’80s Psycho sequels and anthology horror/sci-fi television shows of the era.
Release Date: November 10th, 1990 Directed by: Mick Garris Written by: Joseph Stefano Based on: characters by Robert Bloch Music by: Graeme Revell, Bernard Herrmann (original themes) Cast: Anthony Perkins, Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey, C. C. H. Pounder, Warren Frost, John Landis, Kurt Paul, Sharen Camille
For being a made-for-TV movie and the third sequel in a series, Psycho IV isn’t half bad. Hell, I even like it a bit more than the third film, even if it is missing Jeff Fahey, who killed it in that picture.
The cast in this one is really well-rounded though between the returning Anthony Perkins, as well as Henry Thomas, Olivia Hussey and C. C. H. Pounder. Honestly, this is a really well acted picture that saw its main players give it their all with really solid and compelling results.
The picture starts with Norman Bates being cured but we’ve seen that in the two previous pictures until events pushed him over the edge and back towards his serial killing slasher self.
What’s different and unique about this picture is it involves Norman calling a radio show discussing boys who have murdered their mothers. He uses the name “Ed” while on the air but he talks through his past, primarily his early years, in an effort to fight off his killer tendencies from returning.
With that, this film serves as both a sequel and a prequel. It takes place after Psycho III but it spends a great deal of time flashing back to his life before the events of the original Psycho. It delves into his bizarre relationship with his mother and how it shaped him into the man he became.
Henry Thomas, most famous for playing Elliot in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, shows that he was a good actor and he creates a young Norman that is sympathetic yet disturbed.
However, his performance is enhanced by the talent of Olivia Hussey, who plays his mother Norma Bates. The film examines the sexual tension between mother and son and it’s really the plot of this movie that gave birth to the concept that became the Bates Motel television series. And honestly, I prefer this version of a Psycho prequel.
Adult Norman, still played by Perkins, who really committed his life to this role and who always delivers an A-plus performance, shared most of his scenes with the always good C. C. H. Pounder. While the scenes they share are over the phone, as both act out their scenes in different rooms separate from each other, the two had perfect chemistry and their discussions are emotional and believable.
But giving credit where credit is due, a lot of this also probably has to do with the quality of the editing and the overall film direction. These two actors were on completely different sets, probably filming on completely different days but their combined efforts worked and it carries the picture at its most important parts.
What’s fantastic to me, is that I never expected much from Psycho sequels. The first one is perfection and anything else, I thought, would diminish it. But I was wrong. While none of the sequels are as good as the original Hitchcock film, each is still good in their own way and every chapter feels like it enhances the larger story that is Norman Bates’ complete life.
I hope that Anthony Perkins was pleased with the end result of all these films.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: The other Psycho films.
Release Date: May 3rd, 1977 Directed by: Jeannot Szwarc Written by: Paul King Music by: Morton Stevens Cast: Roy Thinnes, France Nuyen, Gilbert Lani Kauhi, Ian McShane
Quinn Martin Productions, Worldwide Enterprises, NBC, 78 Minutes
Ian McShane? Is that really you?
Why yes it is! And you’re so young!
I love Ian McShane but I don’t love this movie, unfortunately. But all great actors have to stomp through shit until they find their big break.
This was a made-for-TV movie in the late ’70s, which is generally a good indicator for something overly schlock-y.
Code Name: Diamond Head is pure, unadulterated schlock but not the kind that is so bad it’s good. This is too dull and boring to be good and the only way worth actually watching this turkey is with the added riffing of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast.
This film is a weak attempt at a spy thriller. It features a trio of heroes, one of which is a burly Hawaiian singer, who was played by Gilbert Lani Kauhi (a.k.a. Zulu a.k.a. Zoulou), who is probably most remembered for his appearances as Kono Kalakaua on the original Hawaii Five-O.
Watching this, I thought that it felt like a pilot for a show due to its structure and narrative style. I was right, after I looked into it. The show was never picked up and eventually NBC just used it to fill a spot in their NBC Monday Movie lineup.
Ultimately, this falls flat in just about every way. It’s not a bad concept it’s just that the execution was incredibly lackluster.
Rating: 2.75/10 Pairs well with: pretty much an ’70s made-for-TV schlock that was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Also known as: Elvira (Philippines English title) Release Date: September 30th, 1988 Directed by: James Signorelli Written by: Sam Egan, John Paragon, Cassandra Peterson Music by: James B. Campbell Cast: Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), W. Morgan Sheppard, Daniel Greene, Jeff Conaway, Susan Kellerman, Edie McClurg, Kurt Fuller, Frank Welker (voice)
NBC Productions, New World Pictures, 96 Minutes
“Please, I don’t think we need to resort to name calling. I think what Calvin is trying to say is that this Elvira is a person of easy virtue, a purveyor of pulchritude, a one-woman Sodom and Gomorrah, if you will. A slimy, slithering succubus, a concubine, a street walker, a tramp, a slut, a cheap whore!” – Chastity Pariah
This film hasn’t aged well. But I used to love it as a kid. And really, I think this only works if you’re already a pretty big fan of Elvira. If that’s the case, you should definitely give this a watch.
It kind of has a similar vibe to the Pee-Wee and Ernest movies from the ’80s. It’s a cheaply made comedy based on a fictional character that was super popular at the time. I liked the trend of these types of pop icons getting to try out film as a new vehicle for their careers, even if Ernest was the only one that achieved real cinematic longevity.
Lumping this in with those other films, it’s the best of them all after the original Pee-Wee movie, 1985’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. But that was also directed by Tim Burton in a time when the guy could do no wrong.
Elvira: Mistress of the Dark does a good job with the pieces it had though. Cassandra Peterson is truly a comedy master. She owns the Elvira character, delivers her lines like a champ and is willing to really put herself out there to let Elvira flourish. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Peterson and how she performs her craft. She absolutely was the best horror host of all-time and could perform at a level that other horror hosts couldn’t. That may be a controversial statement to some but I stick by it.
This movie was a great vehicle for her because she got to spend 90 minutes, hamming it up in her unique style, uninterrupted by bad movies and commercial breaks. I wouldn’t call this the highpoint of her career, as she has continued on for decades, but it is the one body of work that best showcases her talent in the most complete way.
I thought the story was decent, the acting didn’t really matter and you just sort of have to roll with this and enjoy it for what it is.
Edie McClurg was perfect as the small town busybody trying to make Elvira’s life hell. I’ve loved McClurg in so many different things but I liked that she wasn’t just a small character in this.
This film is goofy, funny as hell and it’s hard to feel down if this is on the TV. But it won’t be for everyone, not that it needs to be. Elvira fans should be pretty satisfied with it, though.
Rating: 6.25/10 Pairs well with: other oddball comedies of unique people stranded in podunk communities: To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and Son In Law.
Original Run: March 18th, 2013 – April 24th, 2017 Created by: Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin, Anthony Cipriano Directed by: various Written by: various Based on: characters by Robert Bloch Music by: Chris Bacon Cast: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Olivia Cooke, Nicola Peltz, Nestor Carbonell, Kenny Johnson
Psycho is a movie that I adore. I didn’t watch some of the sequels until just recently but Psycho II was far better than I thought it would be. Psycho III fell off and I’ve yet to find Psycho IV streaming anywhere. But this show has been floating around in my Netflix queue for a long time, so I thought I’d finally give it a watch, fresh off of watching the first two Psycho sequels.
Sadly, I could not get into this show. I watched the first half of season one and threw my hands up in the air and just quit. I don’t usually just quit a show but I have a lot of stuff I need to power through and the five hours I spent on this were a dreadful bore where I didn’t care for a single character (well, except Olivia Cooke’s Emma Decody).
The show just doesn’t work for me on any level, really. It takes the Norman Bates character and wants to give him an origin story. But this is bogged down by a bunch of characters and the town is made to feel much larger than the desolate place it was in the original movie.
Another issue for me, is that the show takes place in modern times. Now Norman, his mother and their rundown house and hotel look like they’re straight out of the 1950s but everything around them looks like an episode of Gilmore Girls with iPhones.
This is more of a high school teen show trying to be edgy. It feels like something that I wouldn’t watch on The CW.
One thing that really made me want to give this is a shot was that I heard about how good the acting was, especially from Vera Farmiga. I don’t know what the hell people are talking about, though, as her performance seemed incredibly forced and over the top in just about every scene where she was bossing her sons around.
This is also bogged down by too many characters but mainly Norman’s brother, who was created just for this show. He’s some sort of poor man’s Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. I’m not sure how or if he evolves over the course of the show but from what I saw, he’s just a douche and takes a job protecting a marijuana field.
I was initially glad to see Nestor Carbonell in this, as I have loved him since Lost, but even his performance was weird and his character felt really inconsistent.
But the show, at least, looks good and has nice cinematography for something on cable.
I can’t quite say that this is bad. It’s just not what I want and it doesn’t feel like it belongs in the Psycho universe.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: The original Psycho for context and it’s sequels, as this also doesn’t live up to the greatness of the original Hitchcock masterpiece.
Release Date: June, 2015 Narrated by: John Slattery
NBC Sports Films, 47 Minutes
*Written in 2015.
Recently I read Derek Sanderson’s autobiography Crossing the Line: The Outrageous Story of a Hockey Original. While reading it, I was wrapped up in his tale and thought it would be a great story for a documentary. Luckily for all of us, NBCSN agreed and made a one hour film about Sanderson, which premiered this week after a Stanley Cup Finals game.
The documentary interviewed friends, family, coaches and former teammates – most notably the legendary Bobby Orr. It went on to highlight his career and his trouble with drugs and alcohol. Granted, I felt that Sanderson’s story could’ve been more fleshed out and presented over two hours instead of one but NBCSN still did a great job of hitting all the highs and lows of a man that went from the top of his sport to rock bottom in life.
While Sanderson’s story, at face value, isn’t unique, it is the character that Derek Sanderson was that make’s his tale compelling. He was the king of cool, often times referred to as the “Joe Namath of Hockey”. He was, at one time, the highest paid athlete in the world. And where so many of these stories end in tragedy, Sanderson’s had a happy ending, as he overcame his problems, turned his life around and dedicated his remaining days to helping those with substance abuse issues.
Still alive and kicking, when many thought he was on a quick trip to an early grave, Sanderson is a shining example of perseverance and a real man, who overcame adversity, conquered his demons and turned it all around for the better.
I hope NBCSN does more documateries like this, especially in the world of hockey. It was refreshing and engaging, especially when ESPN rarely showcases hockey stories in their great 30 For 30 documentary series.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with:The Last Gladiators, King’s Ransom and Big Shot.